New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 65:1

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. A song-
The context appears to be David at the time of Absalom's rebellion, thanking God for restoring him, and looking ahead to God's Kingdom coming upon earth.

Praise waits for You, God, in Zion. To You shall vows be performed-
David had made various vows as to what he would do if he returned to Zion. And now he was to fulfil them, and this song is one of them. The Hebrew implies "silent praise", a way of expressing the inadequacy of the audible song which David has composed. There may be an allusion to the silence in the sanctuary (later the temple courts) as the people awaited the reappearance of the High Priest on the day of atonement to declare their forgiveness. And there was to be silent praise this had been granted. As noted on :3,4, David seems aware that his suffering at the hands of Absalom was a consequence for his sin with Bathsheba, and he thanks God for his forgiveness. I have noted elsewhere however that he seemed to struggle with it all, with some of the Absalom period Psalms reflecting his feeling that he was suffering as an innocent man.

Who we are as persons is effectively our prayer and plea to God. This conception of prayer explains why often weeping, crying, waiting, meditating etc. are spoken of as "prayer" , although there was no specific verbalizing of requests (Ps. 5:1,2; 6:8; 18:1,2,3,6; 40:1; 42:8; 64:1 Heb.; 65:1,2; 66:17-20; Zech. 8:22). The association between prayer and weeping is especially common: 1 Sam. 1:10; Ps. 39:12; 55:1,2; Jn. 11:41,42; Heb. 5:7, especially in the Lord's life and the Messianic Psalms. "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer" (Ps. 6:8,9) crystallizes the point.

Psa 65:2

You who hear prayer, to You all men will come- This refers to the coming near in sacrifice which is alluded to in :4. David saw his experience of forgiveness and grace concerning his sin with Bathsheba as programmatic for "all men", and he wanted to teach and preach it.

It should be noted that David/Bathsheba language is used to describe Israel's spiritually fallen state (e.g. Ps. 38:7 = Is. 1:6; Ps. 51:7 = Is. 1:18; Ps. 65:2 = Is. 40:15). David recognized this in Ps. 51:17, where he likens his own state to that of Zion, which also needed to be revived by God's mercy. As David's sin is likened to the killing of a lamb (2 Sam. 12:4), so the Jews killed Jesus. The troubles which therefore came upon his kingdom have certain similarities with the events of AD67-70.  They were also repeated in the Nazi Holocaust, and will yet be. Israel are yet to fully repent after the pattern of David.

Psa 65:3

Sins overwhelmed me-
The allusion to David's sin with Bathsheba which began in :1 is continued in :4. David perceives that his personal sin ("me") is representative of "our [plural] transgressions". He saw in his salvation by grace a pattern for all who would afterward sin, as he makes clear in Ps. 32. The same word used for how David's sins "overwhelmed me" (Ps. 65:3) is used of how overwhelming or "great" is God's grace (Ps. 103:11; 117:2). David felt overwhelmed firstly by his sin and then by God's grace. This explains his fragile emotional and nervous state, as often reflected in the Psalms. But his path is to be that of all God's true Israel.

But You atoned for our transgressions-
The words used for the atoning of Israel's sins, if they were to follow the pattern of David in repentance (Ps. 79:9; Is. 27:9; Dan. 9:24). 

Psa 65:4

Blessed is the person whom You choose and cause to come near, that he may live in Your courts. We will be filled with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple-
"Come near" is a common idiom for offering sacrifice and worshipping God. The idea is used in Ps. 32:9 of how men ought to learn from David’s example, and not be as horses who must have their mouths kept in with a bridle. God doesn't want to force men to come near to Him through using the force of bit and bridle; rather does He want genuinely repentant sinners like David, in awe of His grace, to come to Him of themselves with the "understanding" of Him as the God of all grace. But God all the same causes men to "come near" to Him (Ps. 65:4 s.w.); but not be coercion, by bit and bridle, rather by the experience of His grace, through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

The reference to the "courts" of the "temple" indicates that the Psalm was rewritten and reapplied to the exiles, in their hope for restoration if they followed the pattern of David's repentance and restoration.


Psa 65:5

By awesome deeds of righteousness You answer us, God of our salvation-
The Psalm now moves towards a greater relevance to the exiles (see on :4) and the hope of God's restored Kingdom coming on the earth. Such restoration was to be by grace alone, but was brought about in "righteousness", in justice. Paul in Romans 1-8 develops this theme; that condemned sinners are justified by grace in a way that is all the same "just". This is the wonder of God's grace and His saving work through His Son. For it was in Jesus, Yehoshuah, the salvation of God / Yah, that He saves rejected sinners in total justice.

You who are the hope of all the ends of the earth, of those who are far away on the sea-
This had particular reference to the exiles dwelling in Babylon and Assyria, at the ends of the eretz promised to Abraham. Those "on the sea" likewise refer to God's people scattered even beyond that territory, in what is symbolically called "the sea" of even more distant Gentile areas. The term is used in that sense in :7.

Psa 65:6

who by His power forms the mountains, having armed Yourself with strength-
The implication could be that God would form new "mountains", perhaps an intensive plural referring to the one great mountain, of Zion. He would take His strength to Himself in restoring and reforming Zion.

Psa 65:7

who stills the roaring of the seas, the crashing of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations-
As noted on :5, the seas refer to the Gentile nations beyond the eretz or territory promised to Abraham. Those nations worldwide would be stilled, when God forms or reforms the great mountain of Zion (:6). The Lord Jesus spoke of the situation just prior to His return as the sea and waves roaring, apparently alluding here (Lk. 21:25). "Stills" is literally 'to speak loudly to', and is usually translated "praise". The Lord Jesus fulfilled this, on God's behalf, by addressing the roaring of the storm on Galilee. This was a microcosm of the coming of His Kingdom. The language used here (and in Ps. 74:23) is that used of the gathering of the Assyrian and Babylonian armies against Zion (Is. 13:4; 17:12,13; 25:5; Jer. 25:31). But God's word was to calm that, in order to reestablish His Kingdom. And that is what we now read of in this Psalm.

Psa 65:8

They also who dwell in distant places are afraid at Your wonders. You call the morning’s dawn and the evening with songs of joy-
The picture is of the knowledge of the God of Israel spreading worldwide, from sun rise to sunset, so that dawn and evening would be accompanied by songs of praise from the Gentiles to the God of Israel. It was in this sense that the roaring of the Gentile seas would be made calm (:7).

Psa 65:9

You visit the earth, and water it; You greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water. You provide them grain, for so You have ordained it-
Fecundity within the earth / eretz promised to Abraham is part of the blessing for obedience to the covenant. Here David envisages it as happening abundantly- because the people of the earth / land had followed his pathway of repentance and restoration. This is the picture of Eden restored, with the river of God providing enrichment; the picture is repeated in the final visions of God's Kingdom at the end of Revelation. "The river of God" is specifically envisaged as flowing from Zion (Ps. 46:4), lending weight to my suggestions elsewhere that Eden was based around Zion.

Psa 65:10

You drench its furrows, You level its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless it with a crop-
The impression is of superabundant blessing, with God's hand working to create the optimal topography of the land [although "ridges" may refer to the furrows] and provide the optimal rainfall for maximal fruitfulness. "Soften" is the word used of the melting away of the Canaanite tribes before Israel entered the land. 


Psa 65:11

You crown the year with Your bounty, Your carts overflow with abundance-
"Crown" is better 'encircle'. The idea is that God's bounteous blessing is experienced all around the year- and not just at the time of harvest, as understood by the pagan religions. His blessing is not just occasional, but every moment. God's harvest or "carts" is that of His people, such is their identity in His Kingdom. But "carts" is s.w. "paths". The idea also is that this Kingdom situation would come about only when God's paths or ways were followed.

Psa 65:12

The wilderness grasslands overflow, the hills are clothed with gladness-
The perspective on the land is as it were an aerial view, with the hills and valleys (:13) apparently clothed with blessing. David is seeing things from God's heavenly perspective; this is a vision of the Kingdom of God upon earth.

Psa 65:13

The pastures are covered with flocks, the valleys also are clothed with grain. They shout for joy! They also sing-
LXX "Sing hymns", as if David's Psalms of the Kingdom would be sung by the valleys, as it were; in that they would echo the sounds of those singing those hymns.